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The South Asia Research Institute for Policy and Development, SARID, is a non-profit 501c3 corporation [EIN: 55-0829216], dedicated to promoting education, skill development, and sustainable building strategies for affordable, owner-built homes that are not fossil fuel dependent.[more]

South Asia News and Reports

Lesotho: (Report updated June 8, 2015)


The building on the left and below, a home for the elderly, was built by unskilled villagers and high school students, in a matter of months, after they were trained by SARID's architects and engineers. It has passive heating and cooling features and is warm in winter and cool in summer.

Lesotho, a poor country, in Southern Africa on a high African Plateau, experiences extremes of temperature with below freezing temperatures in winter and very hot temperatures in summer. People live mostly in uninsulated and unheated structures.

With few resources and/ or fossil fuels, with a young and an emerging economy, most of the heating in winter is with imported fossil fuel or imported electricity - imported from South Africa at an exorbitant and unaffordable price for a poor country. Most people are not able to afford heating or cooling.

Besides the economic ramifications of huge outlays of revenue by the country on imported energy, for the common man the energy cost are crippling. For the larger population that is poor winters are biterly cold. Some population are at risk of premature death such as infant, the young, the elderly, and those who are immune compromised. Continous cold weather compromises a body's immune response.

Traditional building types made of adobe and thatch were better adapted to the climate, but given the life cycle cost associated with such practices and lack of skilled workers, people have turned to masonry construction which is a poor choice given that masonry structures are mostly not insulated or are poorly insulated. Wood is not available and would prove far more expensive as it would have to be imported. Lesotho is mostly treeless because of poor rainfall, geology, deforestation in the past for firewood, and lack of a re-planting regimen.


Given these issues in Decemebr 2014 SARID proposed to the Sisters of Charity Ottawa (SCO) to build a prototype structure which would be a non-wood, non-combustible, reinforced concrete structure, and which would be cheaper and comparatively more energy efficient. Further the building type would rely heavily on locally available building materials and would tap the largely unemployed and unskilled population as a labor resource . This in turn would create employment opportunities. Hence Lesotho would engage and mobilize its internal economy. The economic ramifications of adoption of Sarid's technology are huge as it would reduce Lesotho's dependence on imported fossil fuels and electricity for heating and cooling.

SARID firmly beieves that poor countries can only improve their economy, and provide their poor with adequate shelter, through self reliance, by utilizing indigenous resources, and by creating new cottage industries that provide innovative construction material, and by recycling waste whenever and wherever possible.

Imported solutions from western countries are very often not tailored to the needs of poor countries such as Lesotho, and are unaffordable. Western architects pretend to know how to build for poor countries but the fact is they don't and end up doing more damage than good. They make the countries dependent on imported goods and end up primarily benefiting the exporting economies and international banking institutions.

See video below for more images of the process and completed building.Volunteers working at the workshop

SARID has been for years building such structures in many countries and has been able to introduce a more affordable structure type ( see our website). It has been compromised only by a lack of resources, research and development (R&D) funds, skeptics, and much needed donor support.

The proposed building type for Lesotho represents a modest breakthrough not only for Lesotho or African countries but for many poor countries in the world. The process may need to be tweaked to adapt to the country where structures are being built - but essentially it will lower the construction cost of buildings regardless of its geographical location. This has been the case in Haiti, Pakistan and Bangladesh and in New Orleans. The process can be adapted for seismic as well as high wind and tornado zones.

In Lesotho construction cost of future units are expected to be 30% cheaper than comparable structures such as commonly used masonry or other competing structure types, and 70% cheaper over the life of the project.

The SARID/ SCO team started by converting a small storage space into a vocational center - in the hope of teaching the local volunteers building skills. A small investment was made on mostly hand tools. The first batch of volunteers ended up building the prototype. Most of these volunteers had only secondary school education, were previously unemployed, and had little or no prior experience in construction. After training the volunteers had learnt carpentry skills, use of hand tools, and other building /construction skills. Seeing the enthusiasm of the volunteers SCO decided not only to provide free training but as an incentive also provided food and a stipend. The hope is that the skills learnt will improve their chances of employment in the construction industry and perhaps make them capable of building a home for themselves.

Lunch boxes normally burnedThe proprietary technology, intellectual property of SARID, was offered at no charge to SCO, has both passive heating and cooling capabilities. It will keep the structure cool in summer and warm in winter. The proposed SARID structure will be significantly more energy efficient than current structure types in Lesotho or South Africa.

This structure is very well insulated, with an average heat resistance value of R-24 to R-30 in the walls, and has utilized some 4,000 recycled waste polystyrene (Styrofoam) lunch boxes as insulation. Currently these EPS ( expanded polystyrene) lunch (takeout)boxes are burnt, considered trash, causing an irreversible ecological damage, ozone depletion and contribute adversely to global warming. The thatch roof has an average heat resistance value of R-30.

SARID is looking into other waste to recycle and incorporate within the future structure and has done so in other instances........

Please click here to READ More .........or

Please click here to see a video of the process and completed interiors ( This video is an mp4 file. It is user friendly - you may pause, stop and play the video as you please)

(More detailed writeup follows)...


e-learning sites-

  1. Maths (Algebra): A good free e-eduation site for Math, as well as other subjects is >>>>>>

Read full article by clicking here
(Please remember your donations will help our modest effort)


Rebuilding Haiti (Part 2) - Five weeks on the ground After the first visit in 2012, SARID returned to Haiti in spring of 2013 and spent 5 weeks building a prototype structure ........ Read Full Article

Rebuilding Haiti (Part 1) SARID in 2012 surveyed the ground conditions in Haiti to assess how it could help..... Read Full Article


SARID's response ... construction of homes and infrastructure in affected areas [more]

News from Pakistan Literacy Fund [more]

Update from CHAEF: Children Health and Education Foundation [more]

General news: BBC | NPR | DAWN | Voice of America | Reuters |

Low-cost, earthquake resistant, energy efficient, and eco-friendly housing

NEED FOR A NEW APPROACH TO BUILDING STORM SHELTERS FOR BANGLADESH - Sarid - Bangladesh blessed by nature with its fertile alluvial plains, rich and prolific rivers, is also host to violent cyclones... Full Article

SARID’s Sultan develops quake-resistant housing, by Tusha Mittal, India New England

SARID's CASE STUDY: DISASTER AVOIDANCE AND MITIGATION - BARGUNA, BANGLADESH;- “MASS” TECHNOLOGY, Sustainable and “Green" construction – Built in High Risk Area – 15 Km from coast, with very poor soil... Full Article

Low-cost, earthquake resistant, energy efficient, and eco-friendly housing

FEATURED IMAGES from Kasmir of a low-cost, earthquake resistant, energy efficient, and eco-friendly housing. The construction process utilizes a proprietary technology, MASS, developed by Javed Sultan of SARID, Inc., Images

Identify unused land in cities: Govt, by Neha Dewans, Economic Times, India: In a bid to push the agenda of affordable housing, state governments have now begun the process of identifying vacant land in key cities which would be handed over to local development authorities for building houses. This follows a directive in this regard from the Centre to states, with the idea of making governments more active in house building in the future. At a time when private developers are facing acute cash crunch... full article

Building a Stable Future: SARID’s Sultan Develops Quake-resistant Housing, by Tusha Mittal, India New England - Many org-anizations spoke with Ms. Nazmeen Butt, but she says the results remained on paper. Lots of people came, but did only file work,” she says. “They take our picture, take our data, but no one comes back to give us anything.” That changed when she met Mr. Sultan Director of South Asia Research Institute for Policy and Development (SARID), a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge, Mass... full article

Safe shelter to protect against natural disasters, by Maryam Omidi, Minivan News, Maldives: A multi-purpose safe shelter is being built on Muli, Meemu atoll to shelter around 1,000 people in the event of a natural disaster. The building will be used for community activities on a day-to-day basis but will be equipped to shelter people from earthquakes, tsunamis, and wind speeds up to 40 per cent higher than that specified for Maldives coastal areas... full article

Hard Place; Sri Lanka, developing countries, face more challenges and poverty from downturn: economistsi,, Lanka Business online: While developed countries are facing economic contraction, developing nations are facing increases of absolute poverty, with some countries like Sri Lanka having little fiscal room to maneuver, economists have said. A global economic crunch from a collapsing housing, financial and commodity bubble was slowing 'economic growth' worldwide, with world growth expected to be just 0.5 percent in 2009... full article

A walking tour around the slums of Mumbai, by Victor Mallet, Financial Times, London - My first sight of Dharavi, the part of Mumbai reputed to be Asia’s largest slum, was as unlike the conventional tourist tableau of India – all snake charmers and sadhus – as it is possible to witness. On a smouldering garbage dump above a mangrove swamp on the slum’s edge, men squatted here and there with tucked-up loincloths, defecating in the morning light. Mangy dogs skulked between mounds of construction waste and household rubbish... full article

SRI LANKA: World Bank housing project found wanting, IRIN News (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) - When Typhoon Nisha lashed northern Sri Lanka in the last week of November 2008 it caused extensive damage to the roofs of thousands of newly constructed homes, forcing the World Bank to reassess the type of roofing used in its multi-million dollar housing projects. Jaffna, 400km north of Colombo, was hit hardest, according to the National Disaster Management Centre... full article

Urban poverty, climate change and built environment, by Huraera Jabeen and Fuad H. Mallick, The Daily Star, Bangladesh - Designers of built environment can contribute in three areas for improving living environment for the urban poor: in building design; in settlement planning and design as well as in urban planning. Within these three areas they are to work with housing standards, environmental sustainability, economic affordability, structure as well as aesthetics for individual structures. Issues like infrastructure development, upgrading and designing community facilities affect ability of the urban poor to improve their living environment... full article

Alternative Construction Methods May Put an End to Price Hikes Say Experts, by Ahmed Maged, Daily News Egypt – CAIRO: If cheaper building techniques based on a new scientific approach are used in construction, costs would be cut down by 10 percent for each square meter, Housing Minister Ahmed El Maghrabi said at a conference last week. “We build 300,000 units annually over an area of 40 million square meters. But if we manage to reduce... full article

Industry Calls for Push to Affordable Housing, Sindh Today - Describing the government’s decision to provide 5 percent interest subsidy on housing loans taken by the economically weaker sections (EWS) as ‘a move in the right direction’, an industry lobby Sunday said it would boost demand of affordable housing. The prevailing high interest rate has dampened the overall demand and has severely affected the affordability, thus making housing a distant dream of a common man... full article

Older articles from the Index page can be found in Recent Affairs




We would like to thank you in advance for your generous support and your tax-exempt donation.

( SARID is a tax-exempt non-profit 501c3 corporation)

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Board of Directors, SARID Inc.


How did we spend the money you gave us. This is how we spent it over the last 8 years ( see chart above). SARID’s officers and Directors have received zero compensation. They work pro bono and volunteer their time, and work in modest facilities.

SARID LAUNCHES ITS FIRST WOMEN CENTER (Sarid) - SARID, has launched its first Women Center in Muzaffar--abad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, funded by a generous dona-tion from Arif Muhammad and Sughra Bano ... Full Article



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